Harrison County asked to join linked 911 system

LISBON – Harrison County has been asked to join with Columbiana and Carroll counties in creating a linked 911 system as a way to save money when it comes time to upgrade.

County Commissioner Tim Weigle said he had contacted a Harrison County commissioner to learn if they might be interested in joining with them and Carroll County when they upgrade to Next Generation (NG) 911, which allows 911 systems to accept text messages, photographs and videos sent from cellphones and other electronic devices.

Carroll County was contemplating upgrading to NG911 when they asked Weigle if they could link to Columbiana County’s system as a way to save money. Weigle liked the idea because it would also help pay for the county’s upgrade to NG911, which has yet to occur.

Weigle said he extended the same offer to Harrison County because they already have a working relationship with them as members of the three-county solid waste district that serves all three counties.

The advantages are obvious, with Carroll and Harrison counties helping pay for the upgrade, which could cost more than $400,000, and the system maintenance and operating costs as well. Each county 911 system would continue to operate separately.

Weigle said he visited Morgan County last week, which just switched to NG911 at a cost of $470,000. He said they were able to obtain state funding and donations to help pay for the upgrade. The system is capable of hosting four additional counties, regardless of size.

Weigle said the state is encouraging consolidation of 911 systems and answering centers as a way to save money and future state funding for upgrades may be allocated on that basis.

“That’s the direction they want us to go, but we’re not going to do anything until we hear something” definitive, he said.

The county system has five 911 answering centers – the county sheriff’s office and at the Salem, East Liverpool, Columbiana and East Palestine police departments. Weigle said county 911 Director Robert Emmons is of the opinion all five constitute just one answering center because all are linked to a single server.